Fantasy Baseball: Best and worst hitter matchups for Week 7

The Cubs have so many potential contributors in Fantasy that it makes for no shortage of sleepers in a week like this one, but then again, there’s no telling how much any of them will play. Tommy La Stella has gotten pushed to the back burner after looking like he was taking on a more prominent role, but Javier Baez has been playing about three out of every four games and could take advantage of some homer-prone pitchers. You probably wouldn’t start him outside of leagues that require a third infielder, though. On the shallower end, Addison Russell is undervalued with so many walks, and Miguel Montero’s projected return from the DL adds some depth to a weak catcher position.

Worst hitter matchups for Week 7

1. Padres SF3, LAD3
2. Brewers CHC3, @NYM3
3. Marlins @PHI3, WAS3
4. Nationals @NYM3, @MIA3
5. Giants @SD3, CHC3

Here’s how the Padres slate looks as of Friday afternoon: Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija, Alex Wood, Kenta Maeda and Clayton Kershaw. Yee-ouch! Hopefully, you didn’t have your heart set on Wil Myers or Melvin Upton this week. You probably couldn’t justify sitting Matt Kemp, though. The Brewers face a string of aces as well, so it’s a good thing Chris Carter cooled off. Ryan Braun and Jonathan Lucroy are obviously too productive to sit.

Who would I play from the Marlins? Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich — that’s it. NL-only formats are a different story, of course, but I can’t imagine a scenario in a mixed league where I couldn’t find a viable alternative to Martin Prado, Justin Bour, Derek Dietrich or even the red-hot Marcell Ozuna, who has tended to run hot and cold during his brief career. I suppose the sorry state of the catcher position might force me to stick it out with J.T. Realmuto.

Who’s excited to start to Anthony Rendon? Well, good. Now you have an excuse to sit him, especially if you’ve been using him at the overloaded second base position. Jayson Werth has shown some life lately, but you can clearly do better in a three-outfielder league. I wouldn’t count on this being the week Ben Revere bounces back, and let’s not get too excited about Ryan Zimmerman’s two-homer game considering what’s ahead. What’s ahead, you ask? How about Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, Jose Fernandez and Adam Conley in a six-game week?

Joe Panik has been ice cold since returning from a groin injury, and as I said before, second base is deep. I feel like the Giants have been among the best or worst matchups so many times already that we know their fringies by heart now. You got it: Matt Duffy and Denard Span should both sit where possible. Brandon Belt has probably joined Buster Posey and Hunter Pence in must-start status, though.

In related matters, they’re also batting a mighty .295/.355/.485 as a team. That’s a good slash line for a first baseman, let alone an entire squad. Heck, the Sox even rank second in the AL in stolen bases. No, the team BABIP of .346 isn’t sustainable, but this indeed profiles as a strong offense moving forward. They’ve run a high contact rate and a low swinging strike rate, and there’s nothing out of line about their home runs as a percentage of fly balls, which can be an indicator of fluke-ish performances. Best of all, they’ve done while facing high velocity this season — in fact, only the Rays’ hitters have faced harder average fastballs on average.

A lot of things have gone into this early offensive excellence. High-ceiling youngsters like Jackie Bradley Jr. and Xander Bogaerts have delivered in a big way. Travis Shaw is running a .926 OPS at third base. Dustin Pedroia remains productive. Hanley Ramirez looks like he’s on his way to a bounce-back season. And then there’s David Ortiz.

It’s been quiet on the closer front so far this season. Since opening day, Sean Doolittle and J.J. Hoover have been the only presumed closers to lose their jobs. Even the injury replacements — Kevin Jepsen and Joe Smith — have elicited little more than a yawn from owners in standard mixed leagues.

That sleepy calm could be shattered soon. Jepsen has faltered as Glen Perkins’ replacement, Santiago Casilla has already blown three saves and Ryan Madson has had some adventurous outings of late. Even some of those who seem to have job security may find themselves in a closer controversy before long.

For every closer in trouble, there is a closer-in-waiting. There are eight relievers currently in setup roles who seeming especially primed to get a shot a closing duty sometime within the coming weeks. While none is a sure thing to graduate to the ninth inning, each has enough of a chance to be worth stashing in certain Fantasy formats.

Chris Sale ($12,000, $12,300)

Sale is the only legitimate ace on the slate tonight, and as such he should be played in at least some of your lineups. The Yankees are bad against LHP and that short porch doesn’t scare me quite as much with Sale on the mound. His strikeouts are down this year, but his WHIP is ridiculously good and his win potential is high. The major concern is weather, which you need to monitor.

Edinson Volquez ($8,500, $8,000)

Speaking of win potential, Volquez is the biggest favorite of the night at home against the Braves. His strikeout rate and velocity are both up this year, and I don’t need to tell you how good the matchup is. Assuming weather remains an issue in New York, Volquez would be my favorite cash game play. All four of his home starts this year have come in between 38 and 48 FanDuel points.

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